Were you up for Mandelson? Amanda Platell, William Hague's chief
spin doctor, was and his embarrassing performance would have made her
laugh on what was a miserable night for the Tories. Believe it or not,
Amanda has always been a friend - though I confess that now that the
election is over I feel much happier talking to her than I did during
it. Although I thought her decision to work for Hague was wrong, I did
have a sneaking respect for her.
Amanda was a tenacious tabloid journalist and editor, who once followed
me to a restaurant where she thought I would be meeting Gordon Brown and
his then new girlfriend Sarah. She even gatecrashed our private meal in
order to meet Gordon's future bride, not forgetting to tip off her
snapper at the same time. I forgave her because the resulting publicity
did my then boss no harm at all.
Perhaps our friendship formed because Amanda and I have both fallen foul
of Peter Mandelson. Immediately after Labour's first election landslide,
Mandelson told Tony Blair to get rid of me. He couldn't, of course,
because Gordon wouldn't let him. But I don't think that Brown will ever
forget that when he was first appointed Chancellor, Blair was more
concerned with sacking me than what Brown wanted to do with the Bank of
England. Thankfully, Mandelson failed to get his way and I enjoyed two
years working in the Treasury.
However, Amanda Platell's brush with Mandelson led to her losing her job
and goes some way to explaining why she decided to work for Hague.
As editor of The Sunday Express, she took the rap for a story written by
my BBC 5 Live Sunday Service colleague Andrew Pierce. This revealed for
the first time the identity of Mandelson's 'partner' Reinaldo. Through
his contacts at the BBC, Mandelson had forced the Corporation never to
mention that he was gay, even though this was public knowledge. He was,
however, furious that his secret lover had been exposed by a newspaper
owned by his friend Lord Hollick and demanded the head of Platell.
Amanda was duly sacked and the rest is, as they say, history.
I tell this story because on election night and morning I saw both
Amanda and Mandelson on TV. Amanda was in tears as Hague announced his
resignation and even Hague's bitterest enemies could not feel a flicker
of sympathy for him.
I could not help compare Hague's dignity having suffered such public
humiliation with Mandelson's arrogance earlier in the night. His pompous
rant slagging off his many enemies and electoral opponents was
undoubtedly the most telling moment of a dull evening's viewing and told
us all we need to know about the double disgraced former spin doctor. TV
veteran Michael Brunson called his speech 'ill judged'. That was a kind
comment, as most political commentators don't think Mandelson has any